McConnell Air Force Base Boosts Business Climate in Wichita, KS
For nearly seven decades, McConnell Air Force Base has played a crucial role in keeping America safe. With its fleet of air refueling tankers, highly skilled military and civilian work force, and multimillion-dollar budget, the base also has a huge impact on Metro Wichita's economy and quality of life.
“We are privileged to live and work in a thriving community that supports our airmen and our mission on many levels,” says Col. James Crowhurst, who commands the 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell.
The base's total contribution to the local economy was $453.6 million in fiscal 2009, the last full year for which figures are available. Given the size of the base and the scope of McConnell's mission, that economic impact comes as no surprise. McConnell's fleet of 63 KC-135 Stratotankers fly an average of 246 sorties a month and deliver 8 million pounds of jet fuel. The tankers, which refuel other aircraft in the air, give America's armed forces a global reach.
McConnell's 2,915 active duty military personnel make the base one of the region's largest employers. Add the military reservists and members of the Kansas National Guard who are stationed there and the number of military personnel rises to more than 5,000. In addition, more than 1,000 civilian employees work at the base.
Military and civilian personnel earned more than $247 million in 2009 and spent much of it in the local area. An additional $111 million more was spent on base operations support, military construction projects and health-care services within a 50-mile radius of the base. McConnell's economic impact also can also be measured by the number of indirect jobs it supports. Nearly 2,300 retail, service, wholesale and construction jobs exist because of the base, generating a payroll of more than $96 million.
More than 16,000 people live in the Wichita region because of the base, including 7,600 military retirees. They buy houses, shop for cars and purchase furniture, groceries and everything else a household needs. All of the base's retirees, and most of its military and civilian personnel, live off base, which contributes to the stability of the region's housing market. In addition, they support the schools their children attend and contribute hours of service volunteering for local civic groups and nonprofits.
The base and the city enjoy a close relationship, says Col. John Hernandez, commander of the Kansas Air National Guard 184th Intelligence Wing.
“We are truly your hometown military,” says Hernandez, a 2008 Graduate of Leadership Wichita. “Our guardsmen work, live and raise their families in and around Wichita, just like many of their parents before them did. They are invested members in our community, as well as members of the military who proudly give back both to their nation and their state.”
The base also provides a deep pool of skilled and motivated workers. Each year, about 500 members of the military are discharged. They possess technical skills that are avidly sought by the region's aircraft manufacturers, parts suppliers and other businesses. Another plus for local businesses are the 2,000 military spouses who are part of the area's labor pool.
“Our highly trained airmen integrate perfectly with Wichita’s skilled labor force. The Air Force and the Wichita community share the same work ethic and family values. We care about one another and we support one another. We relish the opportunity to volunteer and make a difference in a community that reflects the best of America,” Crowhurst says.
McConnell Air Force Base By the Numbers
- 985.6: Average hours crews fly per month
- 3,540.5: Total base acreage
- 1,000: Civilian employees who work at the base
- $247M: Military and civilian payroll